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'Awful' weather delays McCandless Crossing construction

By Natalie Beneviat
Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A rainy season dampened the pace of construction on the mixed-use development McCandless Crossing along McKnight Road.

A sign advertises a fall opening for the Cinemark movie theater, but construction hasn't even started. The developer now is looking toward a spring opening.

“Awful,” said Kevin Dougherty, president of Selma, N.C.-based AdVenture Development LLC, about how the weather is playing a role in the progress of the 130,000-acre development, located on the east and west sides of McKnight Road and north and south of Duncan Avenue.

“Muddy and cloudy and rainy. It's probably the worst construction season in a long, long, long time,” Dougherty said. “Despite that, we are making good progress.”

Driving past the site, there are massive amounts of dirt being moved in the development's northeast quadrant, which the developer calls its fourth phase. Crews are busy with site work and grading in preparation for starting the infrastructure, said Bruce Betty, McCandless' planning and land-use administrator and zoning officer.

Dougherty said he is expecting businesses to start opening in that part of McCandless Crossing in the spring.

In addition to the 12-screen theater, among the businesses that have committed are Dick's Sporting Goods; HomeGoods, which sells household items; and eateries Carrabba's Italian Grill, BoneFish Grill, Longhorn Steakhouse, Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

These businesses will help form the development's 250,000-square-foot town center, designed so people can walk from place to place. A hotel and grocery store are planned for this phase, but there are no commitments yet, Dougherty said.

There is room for office space and more stores, he said.

Dougherty said he wanted to create something that connects with neighboring properties, such as the new Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and La Roche College.

“I'm very excited about it. It's our fourth and final phase and it's going very well,” Dougherty said.

The developer also plans 53 townhomes by Heartland Homes for that part of the development.

The first construction in McCandless Crossing was in 2009. Dougherty said the portion where work is occurring now is the last “big chunk” of space to be developed. Smaller projects will continue in McCandless Crossing, with the anticipated buildout within three to five years, Dougherty said.

Dougherty, of Johnston, N.C., grew up in the Perrysville neighborhood of Ross Township. He said he is traveling to the Pittsburgh area every other week these days because of McCandless Crossing.

Betty said that the developer and township officials continue to have a good relationship and that he has heard a lot of interest from residents about businesses that are coming in, especially the restaurants.

He said he doesn't envision any other developments of this nature coming to McCandless because the only land available for such a project would be the property at McKnight Road and Blazier Drive.

Betty said a lot of the property in that area, where the Rave Cinema is located, is in a flood plain, and development there would have to reflect flood-plain regulations.

Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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